5 Tips to Max Out Training in Small Group Baseball Stations
February 16, 2023
Do you struggle as a coach to get meaningful repetitions for your players during baseball practice? Especially at the youth level, coaches can feel overwhelmed trying to keep kids of a wide range of skills engaged, learning, and getting enough reps.
While trying to cater to your entire team, it can be easy to overlook one of the most important parts of practice for player development- small group station work. Station work can be intimidating because it spreads your team out and decentralizes instruction across the field. Don’t fear it, make it work! Here are 5 tips to optimize your drillwork during your on field practices.
Plan your time out before baseball practice begins
If you have one hour on the field, know how much time you want to spend doing station work. At some ages, this may be 75% of your field time. For most teams, we recommend at least ⅓ of your practice time be allocated for your drills. If you have 3 stations and 25 minutes set aside, make sure to pay attention to the time to keep things moving and get kids through each station.
For our coaches enrolled in our Coach’s Plan or League Programs, we’ve got a variety of plans for station work that you can download and bring to practice.
Keep groups small
The goal of baseball station work is to max out specific movement reps and allow players to create the muscle memory needed to make plays on a consistent basis. To achieve this, keep group sizes small. If you have a team of 10-12 players, divide into 3 groups.
This allows each player to get dozens of reps at each station. It also keeps the kids moving. With 3-4 players per group, you can move quickly and give the kids some cardio work too! Most importantly, small groups let players get….
Reps, reps, reps!
A huge challenge we face as baseball coaches is getting enough field time. If we are on the practice field 1-2 times per week for a few months, we’ve got to take advantage of it and be ready to rep out. Small group station work is where that happens. When you break your team into groups, make sure to keep a quick pace that is age/skill appropriate.
When I have 8-10 minutes per station, my aim is to get each player at least 20-25 reps for the movement. This promotes muscle memory and enables players to get comfortable with the movement over time.
If you are lucky enough to have the whole field, work stations in the infield and the outfield. And don’t think twice about doing infield work on the outfield grass- location doesn’t matter. Try and get the groups far enough away from each other so that you and your coaches can provide instruction to a group without causing the other groups to get distracted by the noise (for those of you who have coached 7 and under, you know what I’m talking about!). If I have the whole field, I like working one drill on each side of the infield and the third group in the outfield, but most any configuration can work.
Involve your baseball parents
I’ve run so many practices and look up to see moms and dads hanging on the fence observing from a distance. Bring them inside the fence, grab a glove, and get on the field with you. Running three stations optimally will need six ‘coaches’, so that instruction can be given and order maintained. This also brings your parents into their kid’s activities, which is a good thing.
Over the course of a season, you can 10X the development of your players through small group work. It takes more planning and effort than simply hitting ground balls and fly balls to 9 kids across the diamond, but it is well worth the effort. We’d love to help you run a great practice with our Standout Baseball plans, so come check it out here.
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